The words pastor and pasture derive from the same Latin root. Our spiritual tradition is grounded in earthy images of shepherding and sheep safely grazing in green pastures and beside still waters. The Hebrew people were deeply attached to their land, and their festivals and holy days were determined by the rhythms of nature and agricultural seasons of planting and harvesting. Jesus often used natural or agricultural imagery in his teachings.
The connection to the earth came with a sense of responsibility to tend and steward it well. God loves it and sees it is good and calls us to care for it as good shepherds.
This Sunday we will celebrate the gift of the earth and our role in it, and at the same time look honestly at how humans are currently failing to treat the earth as we are called to do or even as common sense would dictate. This must change! We will look at the abundant sources of hope and inspiration we can find in our tradition and in the world.
We will read together the King James Version of the 23rd Psalm, and hear from the good shepherd passage in John 10 as well as I John 3 which provides a foundation for good shepherding, our oneness with all creation and our evolving role as God’s children.
We will sing three beautiful and moving hymns: “In Heavenly Love Abiding,” “When Peace Like a River (It Is Well with My Soul)” and “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” The choir will sing the Native American hymn, “Many and Great,” the beloved “For the Beauty of the Earth” and two verses of “How Great Thou Art.”
Here is a YouTube of Nyland, the traditional Finnish tune of “In Heavenly Love Abiding.”